Sound! Euphonium 2: Episode 8 — Life Sucks Sometimes

I mean how many pounds did I just gain yesterday?

Not sure if I’m in the majority opinion on this, but this week’s Sound Euphonium was a fine return to the series at its best: characters having to deal with life getting in the way of what they consider fun and the compromises they have to make in order to move forward. Unlike other anime (particularly the recent ones) that tackle these sorts of issues, Euphonium makes it clear that there’s no way to choose both, and you’ve got to accept your choice once you’ve made it. Aoi certainly seems to have done so in her quick cameo this week, but Kumiko’s sister (whose name escapes me, and I’m too lazy to look it up) definitely still holds a grudge against the decision she was forced to make years ago, as now she’s stuck in another uncomfortable position between her dream and safety in regards to quitting college so she can be a beautician. It kind of reminds me of when I was stuck in a crummy-in-retrospect job program for two years that once completed would secure me a position at a certain company that I wasn’t even sure I wanted, but definitely would never have been as fun as my current work. Not quite the same obviously, but I can definitely relate to her problem, and I’m glad that this show isn’t shying away from the crummier aspects of that conflict in regards to all the depression and stuff.

What’s also good about this new drama though is that even though Kumiko is still ultimately the Nick Carraway of this story, there’s more of a reason for her to be involved because it’s her own sister. And not only that, it’s one of her best friends. Asuka is still having trouble showing up to band because she’s being forced to make the same decision Kumiko’s sister did regarding band and her own future, meaning that these two separate plot threads finally have a real connection besides Kumiko knowing these people. And because of Asuka’s absence, the band is having trouble getting motivated. They’re strong enough to eventually recover in time for the nationals, but there’s no denying that unlike last week, Asuka won’t be there if things continue going down this road. A good chunk of the drama’s quality still hinges on why Asuka likes band so much, but the unanswered questions weren’t as obtrusive as last week’s episode since everything revolving around Kumiko’s sister can pick up the slack whilst we wait. Her situation is clear, it’s interesting, and she’s involving our main protagonist more by revealing what music means to them both. Granted, wanting to play trombone because your older sister made it look like so much fun is a pretty typical motivation, but it gets the job done.

So basically all the plot threads have a common point, and it’s a point that I find interesting to the point that what should be a mundane slice-of-life scenario (Kumiko gets sick this week and has to stay home) is instead filled with dramatic characterization. Also, this drama doesn’t fall under the sequelitis syndrome that the previous arc ended up doing because we’ve seen this being built up to in the first season, what with Asuka’s melancholy moods and Aoi going through a sample of this. All I can really hope for at this point is that the rest of the episodes keep this momentum to the end, and that the ultimate decision these characters make is not easy, just like the first season did with its second arc. It does that, and once again, I’ll be pretty impressed.

Anyways, I don’t have too much more to talk about this week since it was a really strong episode whose major points I’ve either gone over before or needs more development before I can go too much into them. Plus, we’re all still in a holiday mood and neither of us have the drive for anything too long. So let’s end by commenting on some images.

****

I’m still wondering why Sapphire and Hazuki get star billing in the opening and ending credits, as well as the promotional material, when they don’t even get much screen time let alone story importance. I could say it was for marketing purposes, but they’re on the cover of the first book as well. Maybe just like Shuuichi, they were more important there, but KyoAni decided to filter them out?

The animation has been taking a few hits ever since Episode 3, but for some reason, it was more noticeable to me this week. I mean look at Reina’s face.

Someone’s going to be using this as their Twitter avatar. I just know it.

This is probably the most I’ve ever related to Kumiko in a long time. Just hanging out on the couch, looking at my phone, ignoring the ruckus behind me…

What a weird title for a children’s book about dogs.

Minor Quips

  • Incidentally, I’m not sure why Kumiko’s sister said waiting until after college to pursue her dream is too late, but I assume it’s some Japanese beautician thing.
  • Thinking of ditching the “reviews every Friday” rule and just posting one whenever I want from now on. I’m still going to try releasing one every week, but this isn’t the right place to post details on that.

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